Madlove arts festival coming to St Helens

Madlove Take Over festival is coming to St Helens in November.
Madlove Take Over festival is coming to St Helens in November.

Local residents are invited to be part of a ‘Madlove’ Take Over festival in St Helens in November.


Artist and mental health activist the vacuum cleaner (James Leadbitter) is taking over old Argos store to create an arts festival that cares.

James is working with Merseyside-based social arts organisation Heart of Glass to bring 13 local, national and international artists and communities together to make exhibitions, films and new performances for a pop-up space in St Helens aimed at supporting people’s mental health.

James said: “I grew up in Burnley, a place like St Helens and many other towns across the country. The kind of place that has been left behind.

"By taking over the now closed Argos store and producing a colourful, exciting and welcoming space together, I hope we can create somewhere for people to go to try and re-build that sense of community that has been lost.”

Many of the artists and groups involved have struggled with their own mental health. From acclaimed Indonesian artist and activist, Hana Madness, who will cover the town in colourful bipolar monsters, to award-winning comedian, Kim Noble, who will present his attempts to end his loneliness.

Local artist, Hwa Young Jung has been having conversations across the town to create a map of all the places in St Helens where you can experience care - from the friendly person working at the chippy to formal mental health support services.

The festival will be opened by writer, artist and part-time superhero Jess Thom, aka Tourettes Hero, whose comedy show Stand Up, Sit Down, Roll Over proves it is possible to be both the most persistent heckler as well as the main act.

Emily Gee, Senior Producer at Heart of Glass, said: “Take Over is our annual festival that reimagines public spaces through art projects made with, for and about people in St Helens.

"This year we’re building on a long-term programme of work which looks at how society affects individuals’ experiences of and treatment for mental distress.

"This programme includes a major collaborative commission The Suicide Chronicles, led by artist Mark Storor, the first part of which features in this year's festival. We are excited and honoured to be working with James, along with all of the artists, community groups and organisations in the creation of something very special for the Madlove Take Over.”

The Madlove Take Over space will be open for cups of tea, chats and moments to relax and be a place where everyone can experiment and explore through the projects presented as well as organise their own activities.

It will be open Novembe 1-30, 11am – 6pm, Tuesday – Saturday, at the old Argos store, Unit 2, The Hardshaw Centre, Church Street, St Helens. Everything is free and everyone is welcome.